Building department leaders: Charleston County holds to high standards
In South Carolina, the Charleston County Building Inspection Services department serves a population of over 400,000 spread across an area covering more than 1,300 square miles. So it comes as no surprise that the team of 29 professionals has a big job. To better meet the needs of its constituents, Department Director Carl Simmons decided to look into the International Accreditation Service (IAS) Building Department Accreditation Program. Designed for governmental agencies and third parties providing building department services, the program spurs enhanced efficiencies, improved decision making and increased consumer confidence.
“We wanted to be held to the highest standard in the public sector and serve the community as best we can,” Simmons said. “Charleston County felt this accreditation would hold us accountable.”
Introspection spurs change
Simmons’ team gained value from taking a thoughtful look at their existing procedures and seeking out opportunities to improve. They analyzed their existing standard operating procedures and collaborated with other communities. These steps helped prepare them for the accreditation process.
Throughout the accreditation effort, the Charleston team gained new insights. They initiated next-day inspections as well as a re-review process for both plan reviews and inspections to ensure consistency in the quality of work. They adopted process improvements for quality assurance, audit procedures and customer follow-up, and placed an increased emphasis on teamwork.
“Accreditation has definitely made our department better and brought self-awareness.”
— Carl H. Simmons, Director, Charleston County Building Inspection Services
The result? “We have a better working system that customers are happier with overall,” Simmons said. “We are always looking for ways to improve and can boast of a well-educated workforce due to the amount of training we now require from our staff.”
“Even though it was a lot of work, the benefits far outweigh the time put in,” Simmons added. “It definitely made our department better and brought self-awareness.”
For Charleston County, accreditation was a building block to improved planning and processes. If your building department could benefit from new ideas and system enhancements, IAS provides a one-day training program for individuals interested in better understanding the requirements for the accreditation of building departments and third-party providers of building department services.
This article is part of a series from the International Accreditation Service (IAS) profiling building departments and third-party service providers accredited by IAS — a non-profit accreditation body and a subsidiary of the International Code Council. Building Department Accreditation and Building Department Third-Party Service Providers Accreditation are two of the programs offered by IAS to provide evidence that departments have met a national accreditation standard and are competent to provide public safety services for their communities. To learn more about these accreditation programs, visit Building Department Accreditation and Building Department Third-Party Service Providers Accreditation.